EXCERPT: She hadn’t thought, hadn’t worried. That had always been her major failing, this failure to see into the future, this ability to shrug off the consequences, to wait until it was too late to remedy. That was how she’d ended up pregnant and married in the first place. It was how she’d ended up pregnant to a man she’d known for only a few days.
It was how she ended up dead.
ABOUT ‘A LITTLE BIRD’: Running from a bad relationship, journalist Jo Sharpe heads home to Arthurville, the drought-stricken town she turned her back on years earlier. While some things have changed—her relationship with her ailing, crotchety father, her new job at the community newspaper—Jo finds that her return has rekindled the grief and uncertainty she experienced during her childhood following the inexplicable disappearance of her mother and baby sister.
Returning to Arthurville has its unexpected pleasures, though, as Jo happily reconnects with old friends and makes a few new ones. But she can’t let go of her search for answers to that long-ago mystery. And as she keeps investigating, the splash she’s making begins to ripple outward—far beyond the disappearance of her mother and sister.
Jo is determined to dig as deep as it takes to get answers. But it’s not long before she realises that someone among the familiar faces doesn’t want her picking through the debris of the past. And they’ll go to any lengths to silence the little bird before she sings the truth.
MY THOUGHTS: Wendy James has been called ‘Queen of Australia’s domestic thriller’ and ‘master of suburban suspense’. I would have to agree. I read A Little Bird in one sitting, it’s characters and setting enchanting me, the plot captivating me.
Set in a small town on the Western Plains of NSW, Australia, Arthurville was a once thriving community. Now, in the grip of a relentless drought and as a result of young people moving to the cities for work, it’s once bustling main street is mostly boarded up, and the young who have remained in town are mostly unemployed and addicted to drink and or drugs. But it is also a town stuck in some kind of time warp. One where relationships and family breeding are still important; where old social traditions still matter; where a hierarchy is still in place and where some people will kill rather than have their secrets revealed.
A Little Bird is quietly brilliant, very much a character based mystery set over two timelines: the 1990’s through Miranda’s (Merry’s) eyes; and 2018 when Jo, Merry’s daughter, having lost both her relationship and her job in Sydney, returns home to be with her father while he receives treatment for cancer – not that he’s grateful – and as the only paid employee of the local paper, where she is only allowed to write ‘good news’.
The characterisation is strong with much of the story resting firmly on Jo’s shoulders. It’s a story that examines the bonds of family and friendship and long term relationships; the fact that they are not always as they seem; that our memories can deceive us.
These are characters that I could see and hear; I could feel that infernal red dust that leaves a fine layer over everything; and enjoyed the atmosphere of the pub where the locals go to escape the relentless heat.
James writing is vivid, the plot compelling, the outcome shocking.
She has previously written a novel called Where Have You Been, which is a good question. Where have I been that I have never before read this author?
I: @wendyjamesbooks @amazonpublishing
T: #wendyjamesbooks @AmazonPub
#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #mystery #suspense
THE AUTHOR: Wendy James is the celebrated author of eight novels, including the bestselling The Mistake and the compelling The Golden Child, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Ned Kelly Award for crime. Her debut novel, Out of the Silence, won the 2006 Ned Kelly Award for first crime novel, and was shortlisted for the Nita May Dobbie award for women’s writing. Wendy works as an editor at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation and writes some of the sharpest and most topical domestic noir novels in the country.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Little Bird by Wendy James for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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